Two weeks ago I got to take 19 high schoolers to one of my most favorite place, a small slice of the world where heaven meets earth- Washington Family Ranch a Young life Camp in Oregon. I am always eternally grateful and feel so blessed by the people that Young life has brought into my life and the opportunities that I have been given to serve with them. Although I have been to a handful of Young life camps over the years, serving in different ways, this was my first time taking kids to camp as a leader. I'm not going to lie, I was very nervous. I didn't think that I was personally ready. I felt unprepared and ill fit for the job. Why? I still can't answer that question, but I learned that behind a willing servant, the enemy is there ready to attack.
As the day finally came to board the bus and head south I was already exhausted. I had worked two twelve hour shifts and I was mentally preparing to work four shifts immediately following camp. I was more focused on staying on my current sleep schedule, getting ample rest, connecting well with the girls, asking the right questions, being both fun and funny enough, and not being too weird. I forgot about what camp is all about; being seen, being heard, being loved and simply having the best week of your life. I was so in my head that I was loosing sight of the true message that God was sending me. “You are more ready than you know, just let it be.” I was so worried and focused on being the ‘perfect leader’ and it wasn’t until Kyle told me “don’t try to be the leader that you had, don’t try to fill those shoes. They aren’t yours to fill. Have your shoes and fill them yourself. You are ready.”
So camp has come and gone and just like the girls that I took to camp; my life has also changed. We had late nights and early mornings, I probably drank way too much coffee, we laughed deep belly laughs, we cried, we did things we never though we would do, we loved, we danced, we sang till we lost our voices, and we experienced true community. Our speaker Erin gave the analogy of a table. Something we’ve all seen, and something we’ve all been uninvited to sit at at some point in our lives. Erin told us that we always have a seat at the table in Gods eyes. He will forever extend the invitation to sit at His table, and no matter how many people there are, how overcrowded it may look from our point of view, what we’ve done in our lives, or how many times we reject our seat; that our seat is always open and ready for us to claim it as your own.
The table was exactly what both the students and I as a leader needed to hear. Every single camper at WFR had just finished their freshman year in high school. (By far the hardest, most awkward, confusing time in someones life) I’m not so sure about your freshman year in high school, but mine was rough. So heres a little flashback for ya'll. I consistently found myself trying to fit in wherever I could. I bounced around between the ‘band geeks’, the ‘popular kids’, ‘theatre nerds’, ‘ASB crew', 'the athletes' and back again. I was academically driven my freshman year, but socially, I was drained. Every time I attempted to connect with a new group their table became overcrowded and my seat was essentially pushed off the edge. I was searching for a place of belonging and I never found it. Some may see this as wanting to fit in and some want just that- to fit in. You see, fitting in is when you want to be apart of something. Belonging is when you are wanted there. I really struggled with understanding this.
Erin told us "don't let the distractions of the world call you away from your spot at the table". I realized that walking into camp I was already distracted by earthly things calling me away from my spot at the table as a leader. We are all in need of a rescue to get back to the table. Me coming to camp was the rescue that I didn't know I needed. God created us, loves us and wants to be with us- so He invites us to the table. He looks us in the eye and wants us to know we Belong. Jesus paid the penalty of death for our sin, all so that we could take our seat at the able again and Belong. He was thinking of you. We are given new life by the power of the resurrection and the invitation to believe in Jesus. He wants us to come home and back to the table.
There is a chair that waits for you
There is a friend that understands everything you are going through
Are you standing at a distance in the shadow of your shame?
There is a lot of hope that is shining
What table are you sitting at?
Will you come and take your place?
Today, I’m sitting at a table by myself at Cafe Mela writing this blog. But you see, the chair across from me at this table isn’t empty. Theoretically speaking it is. But between my faith and this blog- the chair isn’t empty. There is someone else here with me. There are approximately 28 tables in this cafe. Some are fully occupied, some only have one person sitting at them, and others are empty. So I want to ask you a question. If Jesus were to walk into the room, where would He sit? There is no wrong answer here. Ask yourself- what would Jesus do? Would He sit at a table that is already full, would He join the lonely, or would He take a seat for Himself and wait for those to join Him?
So come on in, take your place
There is no one that's turned away
All you sinners, and all you saints come on in and find your Grace
There is nothing He hasn't seen before
For all your sin, all your sorrow, and your sadness
There is a Savior and He calls
Bring it all to the table.
Will you accept your invitation to the table?
Song(s) of the blog:
To The Table- Zach Williams
The Wick- Housefires
Odd Man Out- Clayton Jones